What's going on around the globe Most other parts of the world commemorate the birth of Jesus in December, but the village of Shingo in Japan likes to do things its own way. This month, as they do every year, the villagers will march up a hill to lay flowers and pray at the tomb of garlic farmer Daitenku Taro Jurai, the local name for the man known elsewhere as Jesus Christ. Nestling anonymously in a mountainous patch of pine forests and scrawny apple trees, a six-hour drive from Tokyo, Shingo appears to be a typical Japanese village. Known mainly for its garlic ice cream, and the unusually rapid flight of its young to nearby cities, it seems an odd final resting place for the Christian messiah. According to the Bible, Christ was crucified on Calvary, rose from the dead three days later, then ascended into heaven. Not so, says local legend in Shingo - that was his brother, Isukuri. In reality, Jesus fled across land carrying his brother's severed ear and a lock of hair from the Virgin Mary and settled down to life in exile in Northern Japan. He married a local woman called Miyuko, fathered three daughters and died at the age of 106. Two large wooden crosses outside the village mark the graves of the siblings from Galilee, a nearby museum makes the case for Daitenku Taro Jurai as Jesus and the annual Christ Festival celebrates his life. Legend doesn't record whether Daitenku changed any water into sake. According to a sign beside his grave, the young pilgrim came to Japan aged 21 'to pursue knowledge of divinity for 12 years'. After more than a decade of study somewhere near Mount Fuji and fluent in Japanese, he went back to Judea at the age of 33, but his teachings were rejected and he was arrested. His brother took his place on the cross and Daitenku began a second arduous 16,000km trek. The case for a Japanese Jesus is enriched by local lore. The museum says the old village name, Herai, sounds more Hebrew than Japanese and notes some odd similarities between local culture and the songs and language of the Middle East. Villager Yoshiteru Ogasawara says that for years the locals blessed children with a black sign of the cross on their foreheads. Other villagers have claimed that newborn babies were draped in clothes marked with the Star of David. 'Every now and then a blue-eyed baby is still born and some people say that these children are the descendants of the original settler,' says Ogasawara. 'A tomb has been there for generations and it was said to contain someone very important, although nobody knew who.' The origins of the Christ cult lie in documents discovered in the hands of a Shinto priest outside Tokyo in 1935 that are said to be Christ's last will and testament, dictated as he neared death. A copy of the scrolls sits in a glass case in the Shingo museum, brought to the village by Banzan Toya, a now discredited nationalist historian who said they referred to two local burial mounds that had been in the hands of a garlic-farming family called Sawaguchi for generations. It doesn't sound much of a threat to 2,000 years of Christian mythology and the beliefs of millions worldwide who've been raised thinking that it was Jesus up there on the cross in Golgotha. But none of this has stopped the annual Christ Festival, during which a motley crew of pilgrims, pagans and the curious mixture of Shinto, Buddhist and Christian rites. Some have come to seriously worship the doppelganger deities, but quite a few seem just as happy to indulge in the local brew: Christ Village sake. 'Don't drink too much,' I'm warned. 'God is watching.'